I never thought I would be one to turn home canning into a little bit of an obsession, but here we are. I have a one-year-old and I feel it is very important to make sure we have healthy foods on-hand in case my husband ever lost his job, or we had an emergency of some kind. It is also great to know exactly what I’m feeding him, unlike canned foods you buy at the grocery store. I will admit that canning is an investment, especially your first year. But once you have your jars, all you need to do is buy new lids (which are less than $3 at Walmart), and then you are good to go.
We have had some very generous neighbors this year. We have been given enough tomatoes to can 14 quarts of whole tomatoes, plus 15 pints of salsa. I had never canned tomatoes or salsa before this year, but I found a great tutorial that I used to can tomatoes with step-by-step instructions and photos.
I also purchased peaches to can as well from a local orchard. I paid $20 for a 20 pound box, which is pricey, but I figured I would rather pay that and know exactly what I’m feeding my one-year-old. I then went to another orchard that is about 25 minutes away and saw they were selling 20 pound boxes of “seconds” for $7. I was so mad I didn’t just go there first. For those of you who are new to canning, “seconds” are those pieces of fruit that are smaller and less perfect-looking. The “seconds” that I bought don’t have worm holes or anything like that, they are just smaller. I canned my expensive peaches yesterday and was reminded how easy it really is. I found a wonderful step-by-step tutorial that I used on canning peaches, as it has been at least 10 years since I’ve helped my mom do them. I got 11 quarts from one 20 pound box.
We also have a neighbor who has an apple tree full of apples. They don’t love cooked apples, so they have graciously offered to let my husband and I have all of the apples on their tree once they’re ready. If you don’t have an apple tree, or generous neighbors, try a local orchard and see if they have “seconds”. We will be making applesauce. Our one-year-old has eaten 14 quarts of applesauce over the last 6-7 months, so we know we need to replenish our supply. Applesauce is something that does require more specific tools than just a hot water bath and jars, so not everyone can make it easily. Here is a great step-by-step tutorial on making applesauce if you have access to the right tools.
Give it a try, or at least help someone you know who’s doing their canning so you can get a feel for it. It really isn’t as hard as it seems and it is very, very rewarding.